East Hills Middle School will host its first classes a day late on Tuesday, but Farmersville Elementary School will remain closed through at least Wednesday as the Bethlehem Area School District struggles to bring a mold problem there under control.
District officials announced the status of both school buildings via memos posted on the BASD Website on Monday afternoon and evening.
“The Bethlehem Area School District continues to be committed to ensuring that the cleaning, remediation, and air quality testing of Farmersville Elementary School are done to the highest standards,” says one memo from Superintendent Joseph Roy; Mark Stein, the district’s director of facilities and operations; and school Principal Jennifer Hilton.
“This process is not complete as of Monday evening.
“The time necessary to complete the rigorous cleaning, air-quality testing and inspections under the direction of the independent certified industrial hygienist” requires the district to keep Farmersville Elementary closed for two additional days, according to the memo.
But East Hills got a clean bill of health from the same certified industrial hygienist on Monday afternoon, according to a separate memo from Roy. Mold was discovered in several classrooms in that building on Aug. 12 and remediation got under way on Aug. 16.
The district hired a contractor—Sargent Enterprises Inc.—to work on mold remediation—a process that includes using hospital grade disinfectant to wipe down walls, floors and furniture and using a HEPA-filtered vacuum to clean everything else, including schoolbooks.
The mold at Farmersville Elementary School was not discovered until last Wednesday. Sargent Enterprises Inc. has also been hired to conduct cleanup in that building.
“We understand the inconvenience this continued closure is causing many families and apologize for that inconvenience,” the Farmersville memo continues. “We will not rush the process as we work to ensure a clean and safe learning environment for our students and staff.”
The memo says the district will consult with the Pennsylvania Department of Education to determine how this delay will affect the school calendar.
Families who have their children enrolled in Farmersville Elementary School Day Care may bring them to Miller Heights Elementary School while Farmersville remains closed, but additional costs may apply, the memo said.